This year’s World Breastfeeding Week topic is Breastfeeding and Work, Let’s Make it Work. I thought I would share some thoughts as a breastfeeding working mom. These are breastfeeding essentials every mom needs when returning to work.
Working Mom Breastfeeding Essentials – Before returning to work
Know your rights. Your workplace is required to provide a private space for mothers to pump as well as the break time to do so. Check out this tear sheet with details from the Fair Labor Standard Act.
Visit your workplace prior to the end of your maternity leave and scope out the available space for expressing breast milk. Find out if your office has lactation rooms with available pumps or if you will need to order a pump and bring your own. Find out where the refrigerator is as you will be storing expressed breast milk during the day. Will you need to wash your pump attachments in the bathroom, or is there a break room available? Are there any shortcuts you can plan to make your time pumping easier?
Pack your pumping bag and do a dry run practice at home. Does your bag have everything you need? Do you know how to operate your pump and quickly put together the attachments?
Breastfeeding Essentials at Home
In no particular order, here is a list of items you will need while home with your baby during maternity leave and otherwise.
- A nursing pillow. I prefer the Boppy brand because it is easy to use (and the baby can use it later for sitting up). Many prefer the My Brest Friend, but I found that it is flat and if I lean forward a little, the baby tries to roll off.
- Burp cloths or receiving blankets to use for wiping spills. Because baby unlatches and mama leaks. Also good for spit-up.
- Nursing bras. There are so many options to choose from, just be sure it fits well and is comfortable.
- Nursing pads, because, again, mama leaks.
- Also, nursing tops so you don’t have to pull up your shirt and expose half your body each time you feed your baby. It is easier to just pull down or unsnap a corner of a shirt or tank.
- Nipple cream or coconut oil for the cracked and abused girls.
- Other creature comforts: water, a comfortable place to sit/recline, entertainment cause you’ll be sitting a while.
- Support, obviously, from family and friends. Find a good Lactation Consultant and local support group.
Pumping Essentials when Returning to Work
I previously shared the items I have in my own pumping bag, but this list below has more detail on some items.
- A pump, and all the attachments that go with it – or attachments to the hospital-grade pump if available at your office. You should be able to get health insurance to pay for a pump.
- Breast milk storage bottles and freezer bags if you plan on collecting a stash before returning to work.
- Regular feeding bottles, or you can use the storage bottles and get an attachment.
- A cooler to store your expressed breast milk in the fridge at work and transport it home.
- A hands-free pumping bra so you don’t have to hold the pump parts up to yourself.
What are some of your working mom essentials for breastfeeding and pumping at work? Do share lessons learned from your experience and other useful information.
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Natalie Crossan says
Thank you for your helpful tips xx
Thanks, glad you found some information helpful 🙂
gemma clark says
This is not something I have experienced yet but after this baby comes I will hopefully be returning to studying and there is a good chance I will still be breastfeeding. Good to read everyone’s tips x
Good luck Gemma 🙂 Hopefully you’ll have access to a good place to pump while studying.
Becci Cleary says
I have never actually breastfed before but I am wanting to with BabaBumpNo3 and never realised how much preparation goes into it!! I am mentally trekking through my workplace now trying to plan it all out 🙂
It does take some prep, good luck with #3 🙂
Gemma Jordan says
This is a very lovely blog with lots of helpful tips and advise.
Thanks Gemma 🙂
Rachel Bustin says
A great post with lots of info. I am looking forward to breastfeeding when my first baby is born in January xx
Congrats soon to be mama 🙂
Maria Hackett says
lovely article. im pregnant with twins and cant wait to breastfeed my babies. x
Wow twins, so exciting!
Michelle Hughes says
My sister in law is pregnant ive sent her this link thank you for the great advice x
Thanks for sharing, Michelle 🙂
Sarah A L says
Thanks for sharing. This advice is very useful for new mums!
Trisha @ The Ham & Cheese Of It says
Another excellent post about babies. Thank you for sharing such great content with us!
Thanks Trisha 🙂
A Cornish Mum says
Some fab tips here 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix
Amy Ngai says
This is a great list. I feel so fortunate to be able to have a year long maternity with my daughter so I don’t have to worry about pumping at work. I can imagine how challenging it could be. Thanks for sharing. #ConfessionsLinkUp
A year long leave, that’s just amazing!
Adventures of a Novice Mum says
Thanks so much for joining in with my BritMums carnival and so sorry that I couldn’t get a reply back to you earlier.
It’s so important that working breastfeeding mums know their legal rights about breastfeeding at work; this is a starting point for making breastfeeding at work, work.
Really good pumping tips and links; so lovely that you can share from your wealth of experience. I thought I was going to pump when I returned to work after maternity leave, but I’ve ended up returning home during normal work breaks to breastfeed. I live close to my workplace and I’m really thankful for how it’s worked out.
I look forward to when breastfeeding breaks will become legal entitlements in the UK. 🙂
That’s great that you were able to go home and nurse while working. That’s really the best balance!
Adventures of a Novice Mum says
Not sure what I’ll do next time round if I’m not living close enough. Quick question for you: is the bathroom really considered an acceptable place to wash pump sets in the US? It’s not the UK.
I wish breastfeeding breaks separate from normal work breaks was written into law in the UK.
Thanks for linking in with #BreastfeedingandI (I know I’ve been already but thought I’d come again to extend the convo further). 🙂
You know, that is a good question. I don’t think the rule actually specifies breast pump cleaning, just the expression of milk.
“a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” 29 U.S.C. 207(r).
So while I don’t think it is an acceptable location, I don’t think there is a requirement to provide a kitchen or break room (especially for work places that don’t have such rooms).
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
Oooh, such wonderful tips and suggestions you shared here. Oh my, I haven’t thought about pumping for years! lol
Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.
Wishing you a lovely day.
I’m sure you have such fond memories of it, right? LOL
Anita Cleare says
Pumping in the toilets at work – I will never forget it. I’m glad I could do it, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have somewhere nicer to hang out while doing it! I once pumped all the way through a week long business trip (throwing the milk away!) just to keep my supply up. It can be done!
Oh how sad that you had to throw the milk away on a business trip. But you’re right, it can be done and even though your experience isn’t what you would have wanted, it was a good experience and worth it anyway. Thanks for commenting!
Angela Gilmore says
This is a great list and resource! I can’t think of any additions except for a manual pump. I used an electric pump with my son but having a manual pump was great for times when the electric pump wasn’t an option or when I had a blockage. If your ducts get blocked, or you are feeling achy, a manual pump is just the thing to get everything moving again.
I pumped for seven months with my son, he refused to latch. I would take my pumping bag full of extra parts, storage bags, and soap with me to work every day, sometimes on the bus. I’d pump every two to three hours and it was a bit torturous. I’m glad I did it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I can’t bring myself to do it again with my daughter. She is just over two months now and we are starting to switch over to formula. It has been a hard decision, and I have an enormous amount of guilt about it, but I am going back to work on the 17th and just don’t have the stamina to do all that pumping again. I plan on breastfeeding in the morning and at night, and my husband will give her formula during the day, until my milk runs out.
I have read your previous posts about breastfeeding and I stole your idea about keeping pumping equipment cold between sessions in order to not have to wash all the parts every time. It’s especially helpful when we are visiting family!
I’ve never tried a manual pump, but maybe I should have gotten one. I think you’re amazing for pumping exclusively for so long with the first little, and you’re doing great now! Continuing to nurse just at home is wonderful. I’m down to one pump session at work, cause the afternoon pump session only yields 1 oz now, and it just isn’t worth it anymore. I started thinking of my breast milk as a vitamin and formula as meals heh. That kind of helps with the guilt since I make so little but still just enough to benefit.
Great to get involved with breastfeeding week and so much advice and tips for the essentials too. Your list is great as I breastfed both mine can agree with the key helpful items. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
Thanks Jenny 🙂 I never realized before how much stuff one needs for babies heh.
Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) says
Lots of helpful tips for breastfeeding and pumping – thank you for sharing 🙂
Thanks Louise 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Nige Higgins says
Great and informative post thanks for linking to the Binkylinky
Sian @ QuiteFranklySheSaid says
Great advice here! And so important that mums find out their rights, so many mums dont realise! #binkylinky
Thank you 🙂 That’s why it is so important that we have the awareness week to help people learn more and know their rights 🙂
Lots of fab advice. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky
A great post full of brilliant tips for mums going back to work. I didn’t have a job when I was breastfeeding my son but if I ever have another child I will be grateful you wrote thus post xx #breastfeedingandi
Thanks Wendy 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post.
Lots of great advice!
This is a great post! I pumped while I was working and it was no joke. Beyond all of the necessary equipment I had to bring, I always felt like I was viewed as getting “extra” breaks so that added tension which made pumping difficult. Though I did it for 15 months! Your list is great. I think that having support form family/friends/co-workers is key. Thanks for linking up with #heymomma! I hope you can stop by again on Monday (it runs Monday though Friday)!
That’s awesome that you kept up pumping for 15 months! It is sad that your breaks were considered as extra, because pumping is NOT taking a break. Ha. Thanks Casey!